Finding A Topic

Brainstorming & Concept Maps

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Choose and Narrow

Sometimes one of the most difficult parts of writing a research paper is thinking of a topic. Here are some tips in finding a topic and narrowing it down so you can work with it.


Choosing a Topic


1. Start with a General Subject area. Later you can narrow it down and make it more manageable to research and write about.


2. Choose a topic that is interesting to you. There's nothing worse than writing about a topic you hate.


3. Think about topics based on your personal experiences or perhaps topics you wrote about in High School. You might want to expand on the prior research you did in the past.


4. Try looking at your textbook to find a topic.

5. Search the current news. You can browse Internet news outlet to find out what are the current events and important issues of the day.


6. Browse reference materials. You can search a variety of reference titles by using the Credo Reference database.


7. Search the Internet. Doing a quick Internet search and browsing sites can help generate ideas...even doing a Wikipedia search can help locate a topic. However, you must still be able to evaluate websites as not all Internet sites are accurate.


Narrowing your topic

Sometimes your topic is too broad and writing about it will take too much time and exceed the maximum number of pages of your assignment. To narrow your topic, think about the following questions:


  • Are there any narrower issues within your broad topic?
  • Is there a specific time period within your topic you can focus on?
  • Is there a geographic area associated with your topic?
  • Is there a question that can be tied to your topic, such as cause or effect or a comparison of two subtopics?

Sidebar Example

I need to write a 10-page paper for an education class and can pick my own topic.


So, I start with a big topic like: Social media and education

Notice how BIG that topic is? I need to get this a little more manageable.

What I am really interested in is how texting impacts education.

This is still a little vague. I need to narrow this a little more. I do some exploring in my textbooks, reference resources, and reputable online resources and there seems to be good stuff about texting and school literacy.




I think I could refine my question to:

     How does texting impact school literacy?


If I wanted to, I could narrow my population and ask:


     How does texting impact school literacy among high school students?


See how that works?